Archive for the '$10 – 15' Category

Wines under $30 challenge

Over the last few months, I’ve had a few comments and emails from folks who read this blog pointing out that I seem to have gotten off-track from this site’s original goal.

When I first started Vinifico, I was determined to search out those really good wine finds in the $20 – $50 range. More expensive wines are great and everything – as well they should be – but the sweet spot for shoppers, at least in BC, is probably in the under-$30 range and I wanted to search those out.

I’m listening – and so is my wallet (I’ve recently done a New Year’s budget) – so for the next couple of months, I’ve put forth a challenge to only have reviews of wines in that wine pricing sweet spot. I’m looking forward to new finds and to re-visiting new vintages of old value favourites. At the end of this, I’ll post a top 10, as well as a bottom 10. That should be in early March.

Let the challenge begin.


2008 Rigamarole Winery Rosé

08162009Both Graham and I received bottles of this wine as agent’s samples, so I thought we’d put our reviews together and get them on the site. I think this bottle surprised both of us… pleasantly. It was both tastier and better than we thought it would be.

It’s got a cool nose that is all about the cranberry, mandarin orange and flinty stone. The flavours are pretty interesting as well. There’s the juicy cranberry, sour cherry, some lemony citrus and a crisp, lightly mineral-edged finish. There’s a bit of a boozy edge, but it’s not out of balance.

You know I’m a rosé fan and all in all, I’d have to say that I would buy this wine. It goes really well with the warm weather we’re having in Vancouver this summer. It’s a nice little aperitif wine to sit and sip on the patio and would also pair well with various things grilled (think chicken, veggies and pork).

It’s a great deal for the money.

With the Hades-esque heat wave we’ve had of late in Vancouver, the wine consumption has been limited. The search for a few crisp whites and some nice rosés has been a common theme in recent weeks.

To be honest, I generally default to French Rosés for fear of encountering an overly sweet homage to the blasphemy that is white zin. I cracked this open the other night and must confess that was a tasty patio sip.

A blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Merlot, it has nice ruby cranberry color in the glass It has a zingy nose of some pine notes with strawberry jam and a bit of cotton candy- things I like in a Rosé. A few sips and the strawberry continued on with some cranberry and rhubarb in the middle. Generally this wine was light on the palate and had some nice soft red fruit on the finish with a bit of white pepper to top it off.

This is a tasty local rosé. The price point makes it a great choice to share with a mixed crowd (Wine geeks and non). Would I buy it? Absolutely, especially if our weather continues as it is.

$14.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

No comments

2006 Bodegas Valcarlos Fortius Tempranillo, Navarra

08052009Well now, here’s a bit of a find. When I received this bottle I wrote it off as a sub-$15 bottle of plonk. It’s a happy surprise to find that’s not the case at all.

Navarra is a Basque region in the North of Spain. The region extends from the Pyrenees Mountains to the edge of Rioja Baja. In the case of this wine, it has produced juice that has got that New World/Old World thing going on. It’s rustic, but also has modern soft fruit.

The colour is a bit different – it’s a pale cherry red in the glass. On the nose, it’s got dark cherries, licorice, clove and black pepper. A soft and juicy sip gives up warm ripe berry fruit, cherry and a lingering floral and softly syrupy edge to the medium-length finish.

I’m liking it. It’s a bit on the rustic side, but it’s  heckuva’ deal for the money. I’d buy it.

*Note: I received this as an agent’s sample.

$13.95 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

No comments

2006 Giant Wine Company “Sinner’s Punch” Red Wine, Columbia Valley

So many of the Columbia Valley wines I’ve tasted over the last while are big rich Bordeaux Blends.  I really love ‘em, but when I spotted this one on my recent trip to Seattle, I had to give the 90% Syrah 10% Cabernet blend a go.

Big and black in the glass, a sniff brought some fresh cracked pepper into play with nice black plum and bit of mint and brown sugar.  Definitely both grapes at work here.  A few tasty sips and I was in jammy black cherry and plum bliss.  Mouth-filling to say the least, it certainly belies the $13.99 price tag.  The finish was nice and full with more sweet spice and and a medium acidity.  Good stuff, complementing a nice burger on the BBQ while sitting in the backyard.

Summer’s not done yet and BBQ season never ends.

$13.99 at Esquin Wine Merchants.

3 1/2 stars
(leaning toward 4)

No comments

Villa Teresa Frizzanti Prosecco Veneto – NV

OK, the taste of the Zonin got my brain fully into the spring warmth and the want of Prosecco. After a nice day at Eat Vancouver and Yaletown Brew Pub, it was time to return to the patio with a nice taste of Prosecco.

In the Vancouver market, the Villa Teresa seems to be the most readily available Prosecco, and it’s organic status doesn’t hurt sales, I am sure. It has a nice straw yellow color with small beckoning bubbles after you pop the cool trigger closure. The nose is a nice lemon and mineral followed with some tasty melon on the palate. This and some sunshine = bliss. Light and refreshing, there’s more citrus and a crisp finish – you could drink this any time of the day. Good stuff.

Great value too.

$15.95 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars

1 comment

Zonin Prosecco Brut NV

Hot weather means crisp whites, rosés, and of course sparklers. This past weekend, the debate was between some of the tasty Znovin Classic, or this Prosecco. Of course logic prevailed and we started with the Zonin and moved to the Znovin.

I love Prosecco, and this one is at the low end of the price scale, so I figured it was worth a go. It has the classic light, fine bubbles along with nice lemon and mineral in the first few sniffs, then some nice pear and apple as we sipped away. It finished up with some light flowers and more tart lemon.

This is a nice bottle of Prosecco, and I’ll be certainly having a few different ones over the next few weeks.

$13.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars


2004 Wild Bunch Red, California

Sean invited me to be a guest author on Over the last few years, I have learned quite a lot about wines from all sorts of people in the industry, as well as from amateurs like myself, who have the enthusiasm and curiosity to try something new and exciting. I truly enjoy a nice wine on its own, with simple pairings of cheese and charcuterie, or with delicious meals, often prepared by me. I cook with wine, use it to make sangria, drink it with friends, at gallery openings, at private tastings… I have had the pleasure to enjoy some outstanding bottles from cellars all over the world (I tend to bring back a bottle or two when I travel in Europe…), but I never frown upon something new, simple and cheap. It’s always a nice surprise to find a great new wine of good value! Especially if you like to sip it while adding it to your recipe at the same time…

This wine was surprisingly enjoyable considering its great price and the fact that I picked it out by the colourful fun label… It comes across as off-dry, with a soft unsophisticated nose and a delightfully joyful mouth with sweet Morello cherry notes and peppery finish.

There isn’t much dimension or depth, but this wine certainly doesn’t lack a juicy punch. Perfect for drinking on its own or with any food you decide to have on a warm evening in company of friends.

$10.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 stars

No comments

Bodegas y Viñedos Pascual Toso S.A., Sparkling N/V

03212008.jpgSean mentioned this as one of the pleasant surprises of the Vancouver International Fest. It was clear that sparkling wines are emerging from South America in a big way, as almost every other exhibitor seemed to have some type of bubbly.

To the Toso – pale straw in the glass, it has nice lemon on the nose with some hints of ginger and toast. This good start led to nice creamy bubbles with some green apple and floral hints on the finish. The rep at the festival said it was 100% Chardonnay, however I read that in some incarnations this has some Chenin Blanc in it. Either way, it’s darn tasty. What stood out most (besides the stunning $13.99 tag) was how beautifully smooth and easy sippin’ it was.

Definitely a standout in the auditions for the patio wines of this summer, all we have to do is hope that the LDB brings it in as regular listing.

$13.99 as a specialty listing at the Festival’s wine store.

3 1/2 stars

(the price basically takes it to 4)

No comments

2005 Viña Tarapacá La Cuesta Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz, Maipo Valley

12042007.jpgWhen I was given this wine as a sample, I was pretty cynical… I can’t remember the last time I had a red wine at this price that I enjoyed at all. Well folks, this is pretty damn good for the money.

I’ll get right down to it. Yep, it’s red and is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Shiraz… with a nose that gives up a bunch of dark cherry, chocolate and cassis. A juicy sip shows all that dark fruit, with a meaty and coffee-edged mint finish. It’s just tasty.

I had it tonight with a couple of lamb sausages from Oyama in the Granville Island Public Market. Toss in some Tarragon roasted potatoes and grilled red peppers and you’ve got a wine and food match that works it, folks.

This is a great value red wine.

$13.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

No comments

Veuve de Vernay Brut Rose NV

12022007a.jpgAll the talk about bubbly got me thinking about this bottle I had picked up earlier this week. It is interesting to see the local liquor stores stocking up on all the various sparkling brands in anticipation of New Year’s. Personally, I believe we need to shift our thinking from sparkling being “only” a celebratory wine. Either that, or we should find a lot more reasons to celebrate. Perhaps you can toast payday, extended shopping hours, snow… maybe even making it home safely despite Vancouver’s finest driving demonstrations. You choose, but pair it with some bubbly. 🙂

A tasty value sparkler is never out of place and this one certainly reinforces the notion. Generally, ros̩ is a mix of the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and right from the first sniff, they make their presence known. The nose has nice cranberry and tart lemon Рa nice start; followed by red currant more cranberry and nice bit of earthy spice for good measure. This finish had some nice length for the value with some more citrus zest and a hint of earth and toast. Good stuff.

I had it with a nice piece of extra aged white cheddar and I don’t know if it’s the snow outside or what, but this just worked for me big time. Thinking about the price tag made it work even more. Let the holidays (or any days) begin….

$13.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

1 comment

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